Transforming Space 15 Twenty into a teenage bedroom seemed obvious to Petra and me, so I’m not quite sure how that thought process went. We share a fascination with the idea that this is sort of one’s sanctuary as a teenager; a place to make your own world even though you’re kind of stuck there. We didn’t do this all with a specific girl in mind; we just wanted to create a mutant dollhouse that a cult of teen girls might live in. And for a week, WE DID.
Being a teenager can be lonely as hell, and in such moments, two things seem somewhat holy: friendship and fandom. They create a sort of strange magic, if you will. The teenage bedroom is usually where these two are recognized for being so powerful, so we decorated all surfaces like altars, and built the furniture up on shrine-like platforms, with help from everyone at Space 15 Twenty.
This meant obsessively arranging a bunch of music memorabilia and memories of friendship our readers generously brought us on the road.
The front window, decorated by Petra’s sister, Anna, with photos from The Ardorous.
Since we were basically creating a commune housing situation for the Rookie cult, we felt a treehouse/clubhouse was inevitable.
Some girls told us about the Ouija results they had in there, and almost everyone signed the walls.
Glow-in-the-dark ceiling stars! So important.
One of my best friends at home, Claire, made these beautiful paintings to decorate the treehouse.
It was really fun to decorate the shelves to match the photos Petra had curated.
Claire also let us place a couple of her journals in the show.
One of our readers gave us this gorgeous drawing when we were on the road.
A letter I dorkily gave Claire freshman year.
Another reader gave us this amazing Leonardo DiCaprio box she made in Seattle.
I got this Supremes record at Long in the Tooth, the record store we had our road trip meet-up at in Philadelphia.
The same Seattle reader gave us this bumper sticker as well.
That creepy little girl is my sister when she was little.
The 45 on the left is by Bleached, who played our closing party.
This photo is from the Teen Witch shoot Petra and I worked on together for Rookie back in October.
Too many nice on-the-road souvenirs from our wonderful readers to count! Plus, my Carrie soundtrack, which we listened to when we stopped in Carey, Ohio.
Ah, the dresser. A vital component.
Another one of Claire’s journals, and all-important stickers.
Loteria cards, and a tapestry my mom made years ago in the back there.
Anna did most of the painting job for all the cute flowers and planets on the furniture.
This might have been my favorite part. Was it the vanity? The Stevie Nicks stuff? The giant purple boob? Probably the combination of all three.
We didn’t want to theme the shrines too specifically, but all the dried roses and cacti and potions just needed to be with Stevie.
One of our readers brought us this amazing box she decorated!
Another gave us this journal with an adorable cover, but I thought we’d display this page instead because it made me teary-eyed. (Please understand that between the three week-long road trip and setting up the installation, it was the MOST STEREOTYPICALLY FEMININE MONTH OF MY LIFE. Also, Petra and I were both on our periods while we were setting all this up. So, there’s that.)
This is also true.
Petra’s amazing vagina piece!
WHAT IMPRESSIVE PIPE CLEANER BENDING. (That was me, I bent the pipe cleaner!)
Perfect handwriting by Anna.
Perfect banner by Hazel.
Now, we move into the window seat/desk area. Please note the wonderfully eerie locks of hair on the wall.
Records and books.
And more records and more books.
Please take note of the collection of Sweet Valley High books, this fan I got at a flea market that just has girls in bikinis on it, and Beach Boys crushing.
This zine by Jen Tong is one of my favorite things EVER. Ever. The fantasy landscape in this fold-out part was so perfect for our own fantasy world.
These two Ardorous works are also by two Rookie illustrators — Minna on the left, and Beth on the right!
Petra ingeniously (or PERVERTEDLY) put stained underwear on the floor by the bed.
I got that blanket at the vintage store we had a road trip meet-up at in Iowa City. Claire painted my guitar last summer, and Anna went over it in Strange Magic colors for the installation.
On the day we uninstalled everything, Petra, Anna, and I just passed out on the bed eventually. Thank you so much to everyone at Urban Outfitters and Space 15 Twenty for allowing us to do this and being so helpful along the way. Thank you, also, to everyone who sacrificed to us souvenirs of their own teenage bedrooms so we could make this installation special. Without those additions, each with their own story, it would’ve looked like a vintage reproduction of some messy old room. I hope it brings you all comfort to know everything has been shipped back to my house, where I can’t bring myself to pack any of them up for storage. I AM SURROUNDED BY YOUR LIVES AND MEMORIES. It’s a little creepy but mostly cool.
September's theme is REBIRTH. For details on how to send us your work, please read our Submit page. ✴
Rookie is an online magazine and book series for teenagers. Each month, a different editorial theme drives the writing, photography, and artwork that we publish. Learn more about us here, and find out how to submit your work here!